Belfast Telegraph

Energy costs down 10% in Northern Ireland as oil hits five-year low

By Clare Weir

Falling oil prices forced the wholesale cost of energy in Northern Ireland down by 10% last month, according to a survey.

Oil prices are currently at a five-year low of around $65 per barrel - compared to $115 in June.

Natural gas company firmus said gas prices were the lowest for any November in the past four years, despite the charge for a therm of natural gas rising by 7%.

Firmus said its energy index also dropped to 98 last month - a new low in its five-year history.

Oil, by far the most dominant fuel in Northern Ireland, has a disproportionate influence on the overall energy index, outweighing the effect of gas, electricity and coal.

Increasing gas and carbon costs helped to push up the price of electricity in the all-island market by 4%, according to firmus.

John French of firmus said that analysts were still puzzling over Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' strategy.

"Is the cartel hoping that shale oil producers in America will suffer with low cost oil?" he said.

"If so, it may well be mistaken.

"What all this augurs is a period of cheaper oil which cannot be anything but good for those countries which have to import it."

He said that an energy consultancy, IHS, has said gas will turn out to be the big winner, dominating the power sector by 2040.

"Somewhat surprisingly despite advances in technology, it predicts renewables will only supply 15% of global electricity needs," he said.

He added: "Coal will survive despite growing acceptance of climate change."

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